Wildfires continue to devastate the western United States and the harsh reality is that they are becoming a year-round issue, as opposed to what was once a seasonal occurrence.

As the need for aerial firefighting helicopters grows, United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods Corporation, has awarded Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, a contract for five S-70™ Black Hawk® helicopters. The bulk order will enable United Rotorcraft, as the only company authorized by Sikorsky to modify Black Hawk aircraft to the FIREHAWK® configuration, to quickly deliver these new production aircraft for aerial firefighting in support of agencies battling increasingly destructive wildland fires.

Acquiring five S-70 Black Hawk aircraft from Sikorsky, with deliveries over the next 7 to 18 months, confirms United Rotorcraft’s commitment to the FIREHAWK helicopter and its mission and ensures their availability to support future demand from U.S. Western States or firefighting agencies around the world.

Sikorsky and United Rotorcraft have worked closely for more than 25 years to develop, test, and upgrade S-70 variants of the FIREHAWK helicopter for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, CAL FIRE, and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. It is with UR’s bold leadership that is bringing the toughest, safest, most reliable fire suppression and rescue helicopter in existence today into the hands of first responders sooner than ever.

While we do our part fighting the current wildfires, we all play a valuable role in preventing wildfires. The national average of human-caused wildfires comprises 87 percent of all wildfire occurrences every year according to The National Interagency Fire Center and most of these fires can be prevented.

At Air Methods, we are not only focused on fighting fires, but we are also raising awareness towards preventing the spread of them. Preventable wildfires threaten lives, property, and our precious natural resources. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a public land pro, you play a valuable role in preventing wildfires and protecting our natural resources.

  1. Check weather and drought conditions.
  2. Build your campfire in an open location and far from flammables.
  3. Douse your campfire until it’s cold.
  4. Keep vehicles off dry grass.
  5. Regularly maintain your equipment and vehicle.
  6. Practice vehicle safety.
  7. Check your tires, bearings, and axles on your trailer.
  8. Keep sparks away from dry vegetation.
  9. Check conditions and regulations before you use fireworks or consider safe alternatives.
  10. Cautiously burn debris and never when it’s windy or restricted.

Share these tips from the U.S. Department of the Interior to help prevent wildfires and spread the word about #TeamPublicLands, their campaign to encourage responsible recreation. Read more about our agreement with Sikorsky here.

Ab S-70 FIREHAW® helicopter operated by CAL FIRE can transport firefighters, drop water on wildfires from its 1,000-gall (3,785 liter) belly tank, and perform hoist rescues.